Words Ending in “-ly” Aren’t Always Adverbs

Ask anyone to name a distinguishing characteristic of an adverb, and the reply might be that such a word ends with -ly. Although that is often true, some adverbs, such as fast, lack the ending. For this reason, they are known as flat adverbs. In addition, many words ending in -ly aren’t adverbs.

Many adjectives end in -ly (which means—and is cognate with—“like”), including some that are also adjectives in their “flat” form. For example, dead and deadly are both adjectives. Deadly may look like an adverb, but one cannot say that one person stared deadly at another person; a correct treatment would be to employ deadly as an adjective and use the noun form of stared: “He gave her a deadly stare.” A more prominent error is to use timely as if it were an adverb, as in “She was instructed to complete the report timely.” But it is an adjective, and should be treated as such, as in “She was instructed to complete the report in a timely manner.”

Some words ending in -ly serve as both adjectives and adverbs, such as friendlylikely, and stately. (Other adjectives that look like adverbs but serve only the former function include costly and worldly.) Others, which do not have root words, include earlyand ugly (both adjectives and adverbs) and burly and grisly (which are only adjectives). Occasionally, an adjective ending in -ly can be converted into an adverb by changing the ending to -lily, but words like friendlily and uglily are rare in writing and almost unheard of in speech.

Many adjectives are merely nouns referring to people and with -ly attached, as in the case of brotherlyneighborly, and scholarly, or pertaining to time (for example, monthly) or direction (for example, northerly). Note that many other nouns also end in -ly, such as assembly (based on the verb assemble) and bully (where the ending is a result of the pronunciation of the source word from another language), and some verbs do, too, such as complyand reply.


Confusion of a Thing and Its Name

Revise each of the following sentences so that the name of the thing, not the thing itself, is defined.

1. He coined the term “the Silk Road,” a network of Eurasian roads and trade routes.

2. Polygyny translates to “having many wives.”

3. We were introduced to the precocious child Prof, short for “Professor.”

4. Karaoke, which means “empty orchestra,” is singing along to a recording of a song in which the original vocals have been deleted.

5. A resume, or a CV (which means “curriculum vitae”), basically a more detailed resume, is the most important document in your job search.

Answers and Explanations

Original: He coined the term “the Silk Road,” a network of Eurasian roads and trade routes.
Correct : He coined the term “the Silk Road” to refer to a network of Eurasian roads and trade routes.

The term “the Silk Road” is a not a network of Eurasian roads and trade routes; it is the name for such a network.

Original: Polygyny translates to “having many wives.”
Correct : “Polygyny” translates to “having many wives.”

The word polygyny is used to describe a concept. However, the concept is not translated to “having many wives”; the word for it is so translated. (The correction encloses the word in quotation marks because the tool for constructing these exercises does not allow italics for the sample sentences; the word should be italicized rather than set in quotation marks.)

Original: We were introduced to the precocious child Prof, short for “Professor.”
Correct : We were introduced to the precocious child Prof, whose nickname is short for “Professor.”

The child is not an abbreviation of Professor; his or her name is. Here, too, Professor should be italicized rather than framed in quotation marks.

Original: Karaoke, which means “empty orchestra,” is singing along to a recording of a song in which the original vocals have been deleted.
Correct : Karaoke (the name means “empty orchestra”) is singing along to a recording of a song in which the original vocals have been deleted.
Alterna.: Karaoke — the word is Japanese for “empty orchestra” — is singing along to a recording of a song in which the original vocals have been deleted.

The name for karaoke, not the activity itself, means “empty orchestra.”

Original: A resume, or a CV (which means “curriculum vitae”), basically a more detailed resume, is the most important document in your job search.
Correct : A resume, or a CV (the initials stand for “curriculum vitae”), basically a more detailed resume, is the most important document in your job search.

The initials for the document, not the document itself, represent the term “curriculum vitae.”


How Long Is A Novel?

Before the advent of ebooks, modern fiction writers concerned themselves chiefly with two lengths: long (novels) and short (short stories).

With the advent of digital publishing, the termsnovella and novelette have taken on a new significance.

In the 17th century, the word novel referred to a book-length story shorter than a romance. Indeed, the English word novel derives from an Italian word for a short story: novella, a term Boccaccio used in reference to the short stories collected in the Decameron. At first, novel andnovella were used interchangeably in English to describe a short fictitious narrative. Nowadays, anovel is longer than a novella:

novel noun: an invented prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting.

How long is “considerable length”?

On average, a printed novel contains about 80,000 words. For some genres, like mystery, the minimum may go as low as 40,000 in the guidelines for some contests, but 60,000 is probably a more marketable length.

In the old days, writers estimated word count by figuring 250 words per page. According to this way of calculating, a 70,000-word book corresponds to about 175 printed pages; one with 125,000 words, 312 pages. Now, word processors keep a running total for the writer.

NOTE: A printed paperback may have as many as 400 words per page, depending upon font size and book dimensions.

Length matters in a book that has a spine to which pages must be attached. Print publishers rarely accept books that are excessively short or excessively long. Digital publishing, on the other hand, is not constrained by size.

Although popular wisdom suggests that people who read ebooks prefer them short, Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, analyzed a thousand of his best-selling books “across all genres and categories” and discovered that the top fifty sellers published via Smashwords average 106,000 words in length.

Some readers love long novels; others don’t. Novelists who publish digitally can help readers find what they are looking for by categorizing their works according to length:

novel: 60,000 words and above
novella: 20,000 to 50,000 words
novelette: 7,500 to 20,000 words

Here are five recent fiction titles and the number of pages they have in paperback:

Sycamore Row, John Grisham (642 pages)
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd paperback (384 pages)
Concealed in Death, Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb (384 pages)
Reviva,l Stephen King (416 pages)
The Burning Room, Michael Connelly (400 pages)


Verb Review #1: May and Might

The auxiliaries may and might are often used interchangeably. Most of the time, interchanging them doesn’t seem to matter.

Strictly speaking, might is the past form of may, but may often occurs in past tense constructions, and might is used in sentences about the present or future.

Both may and might are used when the speaker is not sure about something:

I may watch a movie tonight.

I might watch a movie tonight.

The use of may in the first sentence implies a stronger possibility than might, but for many listeners, the choice between may and might barely registers in this context.

May and might are used to show that something has possibly happened in the recent or distant past.

They’re late. They may have forgotten our address.

They never arrived last night. They might have forgotten our address.

The may in the first sentence suggests that the people are still in transit, their arrival remains imminent, and there’s still a possibility that they have not forgotten the address.

The might in the second sentence places the expected arrival in a more distant past and the forgetting of the address is more likely to be past as well.

Again, most speakers would probably not notice if may and might were interchanged in these contexts.

There is, however, a context in which the use of may in place of might leaps out as glaringly incorrect. Here are examples, with corrections.

INCORRECT: His letter from New York may have been too late to prevent a dissection, but Kroeber had been passionate about respecting Ishi’s wishes for a proper burial.—Ishi’s Brain, W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.
CORRECT : His letter from New York might have been too late to prevent a dissection, but Kroeber had been passionate about respecting Ishi’s wishes for a proper burial.

The letter was too late. The dissection was performed. The only correct choice is the past tense form, might.

INCORRECT: Seattle school shooting killed one — but it may have been much worse if not for ‘hero’ guard with pepper-spray—Headline, National Post.
CORRECT : Seattle school shooting killed one — but it might have been much worse if not for ‘hero’ guard with pepper-spray.

The attacker was in fact prevented from killing another person.

INCORRECT: If not for Joseph’s bravery and quick actions, his brother may have been killed.—Do The Right Thing site.
CORRECT : If not for Joseph’s bravery and quick actions, his brother might have been killed.

Thanks to Joseph’s actions, the brother was not killed. May suggests that the brother was perhaps killed.

INCORRECT: Another child may have been the next victim if it hadn’t been for a woman [who alerted police].—Announcer on Inside Edition.
CORRECT : Another child might have been the next victim if it hadn’t been for a woman who alerted police.

The perpetrator was apprehended before he could attack another child.

Distinctions between may and might continue to weaken, but for the present, careful speakers may wish to pay attention to their use with constructions relating to the past.


Verb Mistakes #1: Heard on Television

Quite apart from stylistic errors involving redundancy and inapt word choice, television can be a rich source of grammatical errors. Here are four examples.

INCORRECT: Gin was drunken out of necessity, not choice.—Documentary narrator
CORRECT: Gin was drunk out of necessity, not choice.

The forms of the verb drink are:
Present: drink/drinks
Simple past: drank
Past participle: (has/have) drunk

Drunken is an adjective: “He has a reputation as a drunken, lazy lay-about.”

Drunk is also used an adjective: “He was drunk as a lord.”

INCORRECT: [She] has announced she wasrunning for Senate yesterday. —News reporter
CORRECT: [She] announced yesterday she isrunning for Senate.
CORRECT: [She] has announced she is running for Senate.

“Has announced” is a verb in the present perfect tense. Adverbs of time like yesterday are not used with this tense. Even if the announcement was made in the past, the fact of the candidate’s campaign for the Senate exists in the present.

INCORRECT: [Context: Three meat inspectors were murdered at a sausage factory.] Each of them were shot several times.”—Radio announcer
CORRECT: Each of them was shot several times.”

Each is singular and requires a singular verb.

INCORRECT: What kind of things would they bein the market of buying?
CORRECT: What kind of things would they be in the market to buy?

There is no hard and fast rule that would guide an ESL speaker to choose an infinitive over a participle in this construction. There are, however, certain abstract nouns that are always followed by an infinitive. For example: ability,desireneedwishattemptfailureopportunity,chance, and intention. In the expression “to be in the market,” market is abstract.

Possible responses to the question “What are you in the market to buy?” might be “I’m in the market to buy a house” OR “I’m in the market for a house.


Usage Mistakes #1

The sentences below illustrate various types of mistakes in wording born from (not “borne out of”) ignorance or carelessness.

1. All the progress we have made to educate people about the hazards of smoking may be for not.

The writer, perhaps unfamiliar with the termnaught, assumed that the last word of the sentence is intended to denote negation rather than futility: “All the progress we have made to educate people about the hazards of smoking may be for naught.”

2. President Obama traveled to Cuba for a historical visit.

A historical visit is one that occurs in history, though one should not refer to a visit this way;historical is superfluous. The writer meant to state that the visit is historic; that word means “of significance to history” (though it sometimes refers simply to something established or existing from the past): “President Obama traveled to Cuba for a historic visit.”

(But shouldn’t it be “an historic visit”? No, because the correct pronunciation of historic is to sound the h, though many people, including me, believe it is easier to use an and treat the first letter of the following word as silent.)

3. His speech was a load of dribble.

Some people seem to think that references such as the one here are to someone’s writing or utterance being worth no more than drool, but the correct word for foolish or silly talk (which can refer to slavering but is etymologically unrelated) is drivel: “His speech was a load of drivel.”

4. The list is virtually a whose-who of prominent community members.

The pronoun whose has no place in this sentence. The phrase “who’s who” (the contraction is of “who is”) refers to a roster of notable people or things or summaries about them, or to such a group collectively: “The list is virtually a who’s who of prominent community members.” This usage—without a connecting hyphen—stems from publications with titles modeled on the phrase, such as Who’s Who in American Art.

5. Where does the US Jewish population predominately live?

Predominate is a verb; the correct adjectival and adverbial forms are predominant andpredominantly: “Where does the US Jewish population predominantly live?”


3 Cases of Too Many Commas

This post illustrates several types of sentences that incorporate excessive punctuation. Each example is followed by a discussion and a revision.

1. Much of what happened between the moment Jones sat on a bench to enjoy the view and police opened fire and killed him, has been the subject of contentious debate.

A verb is preceded by a comma only when that comma is one of a pair that frames a parenthetical phrase: “Much of what happened between the moment Jones sat on a bench to enjoy the view and police opened fire and killed him has been the subject of contentious debate.” (An example of the type of exception noted is “Much of what happened between the moment Jones sat on a bench to enjoy the view and police opened fire and kill him, and why the police reacted the way they did, has been the subject of contentious debate.”)

2. The stakes are high because, without effective management of regulatory risks, organizations are reactive, at best, and noncompliant, at worst, with all of the attendant consequences.

The punctuation bracketing the phrases “at best” and “at worst” is optional, but because they, in combination with the required commas that set off the sentence’s parenthetical phrase and its subordinate clause, create a cluttered effect, it’s best to omit the discretionary ones: “The stakes are high because, without effective management of regulatory risks, organizations are reactive at best and noncompliant at worst, with all of the attendant consequences.” (Note that in the case of “at worst,” only the preceding comma can be deleted, because the one that follows it serves double duty, setting off the subordinate clause as well.)

3. He would replace conservative, Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, leaving behind a bitter election-year fight over the future of the court.

This sentence is punctuated as if “Justice Antonin Scalia” is an appositive of conservative—that is, as if the phrase and the word are equivalent to each other—meaning that the parenthetical phrase could be omitted without affecting the validity of the sentence’s grammatical structure. However, the result would be the flawed statement “He would replace conservative, who died last month, leaving behind a bitter election-year fight over the future of the court.”

Conservative is simply part of a descriptor providing additional information about the person named; therefore, no intervening punctuation is necessary: “He would replace conservative justice Antonin Scalia, who died last month, leaving behind a bitter election-year fight over the future of the court.” (Note that because the descriptor is “conservative justice,” not simply conservative, justice is not a job title and is therefore not capitalized.)

A revision of the sentence that incorporates an appositive and thus validates the parenthetical punctuation, is “He would replace a conservative justice, Antonin Scalia, who died last month, leaving behind a bitter election-year fight over the future of the court.” (Here, “Antonin Scalia” —and the framing punctuation—could be omitted without damage to the sentence.)


How Long Should a Sentence Be?

A few years ago, I wrote a post titled “How Long Should a Paragraph Be?” which argued that various pronouncements that dictate paragraph length (expounded for the benefit of beginning writers, who presumably are aided by the introduction of a circumscribed formula for success in composition) should be ignored in favor of a commonsense approach to organizing paragraphs according to the ideas expressed within; the correct answer, I argued, is that a paragraph has to be long enough to reach its end, meaning that a paragraph can be as short or as long as is required for a writer to express an idea.

Did the preceding paragraph seem too long? It’s not especially lengthy, but if it exhausted you to read it, that’s because it consists of a single sentence that is more than a hundred words long. Although I am known to write long, complex sentences, that one, which I deliberately stretched out to an excessive extent, is an example of a statement that could use some reorganization.

How long should a sentence be? Like a paragraph, it should be long enough to reach its end, but, as with a paragraph, that objective should be balanced with aesthetic considerations. A sentence can consist of one word or be infinitely long, but what will serve the reader while expressing a complete thought?

Generally, it’s more productive to provide a sequence of sentences of naturally varied length than to dictate how many words one is permitted to use in a given sentence; a succession of sentences of equal or similar length will distract readers, as will a series with wildly divergent word counts. Take care not to repeatedly overwhelm sentences with multiple forms of parenthesis (interjecting words or phrases—or entire sentences, for that matter, using commas, parentheses, or dashes). The previous sentence includes the three basic forms, but note that, aside from a single semicolon, I have refrained from introducing anything more complicated into this paragraph.

Don’t overthink the issue, of course. Write naturally, but when revising your work, attend to sentence length and combine or separate sentences that seem too abrupt or unwieldy (unless that is the effect you want to create). If you want a ballpark figure, go with a range of twenty to twenty-five words as a benchmark, though average length will vary depending on the literacy of your readership.


How to Get Your Writing on the Road to Being Read and Spread

Know your audience. Know your product cold. Research. Nail the headline. Write plainly, in the language of your audience. Research more. Write great bullets. Craft a great offer. Include a strong call to action. Et cetera.

These elements are the standard. They get the job done.

But this little truth I’m about to tell you is the foundation that makes all the rest of it work, and it’s the answer to getting you on the road to getting your writing read and shared.

So, try this on for size …

Every sentence you write should make them want to read the next sentence you write.

Simple, huh?

Yes, this entire business of creating content in order to build an audience (people who will potentially buy from you) can be boiled down to that stupidly simple statement.

The headline only exists to get the first sentence read.

The first sentence only exists to get the second sentence read. And so on, pulling your reader right on down through your page, story, bullets, and call to action.

It’s that simple. And it’s that difficult.

The secret is in the line.

A great headline is followed by a single, compelling sentence that engages the reader’s interest. And then another, followed by another, and another.

You won’t be able to pull this off all the time. Hell, you won’t even pull it off most of the time.

But if you keep the raw horsepower of The Single Line in your mind as you work, you might make something good enough to be read and shared … maybe even shared widely.

This is foundational because even if you employ every bullshit “content distribution” trick and tip in the book, and your writing is bad, it won’t get you anywhere.

Write well. Line by line.

If you’re able to work in this way, all of those lines will begin to add up, and then they’ll go to work for you, day and night, for a long, long time on this thing we call the internet.

So yes, write urgent, unique, ultra-specific, and useful headlines.

Yes, demonstrate the benefits, not the features.

Yes, make them an offer they can’t refuse.

But do it all by deliberately crafting each sentence to honestly, accurately, and entertainingly tell the story you want to tell.

Difficult? Sure.

But, to quote someone that I could not confirm the identity of … that’s why they call it work.

Image source: Mathias Herheim via Unsplash.




As they say, “garbage in, garbage out.” You can’t write good stories if your information gathering is flawed.


Good writers are avid readers. Making time to read every day will improve your writing, whether what you read is well written or not. You’ll have more ideas and model positive examples while avoiding negative ones.


You can’t write if you don’t have a topic to write about.

Organize your ideas by writing them down, clipping them out, etc., and storing them in one location. Having an idea file will ensure that you always have something to write about.


You must make time to write every day because you cannot become a better writer without writing.


Don’t just think about the group of people you’re writing for. Writing for demographics won’t work. Instead, picture one person who is in your targeted audience. Write for/to that person. Doing this will help you find your voice.


Your writing tends to become bogged down when you don’t really understand what you’re writing about. Make sure you understand the topic as well as you can before you start writing.

The other side of this is that you shouldn’t spend so much time researching that you use is as an excuse not to write. Understand the topic, then write.


You won’t do yourself any good by writing three words and deleting one. Write first, then edit afterward. Just let the words flow, don’t worry about whether they’re good. In other words, allow yourself to write the shitty first draft, then move on.


Some writers work best in the morning, while others work better at night. Discover the time and place that creates a flow state for you and stick with it.


We all have friends who can write, read or study with the television on or a bazillion things going on around them. I’m not that person. Find out what you need to write without distraction. Shut down social, turn off your phone, find a quiet room… do whatever you need to do to create a productive writing environment.


Writing really is about plugging information into a formula.


The lead determines whether people will keep reading. You have to make sure those opening sentences interest and entice readers.


Active voice makes your writing stronger. The best way to write in active voice is to use subject-verb-object sentence construction.


Never use a word you don’t understand. Spread truth, not ignorance. If you use a complex term, be sure to explain it to your readers. As soon as you include information you don’t understand in your writing, your editor will ask you what it means and you’ll feel foolish.


Ask every source to spell his/her name and provide his/her official title. Always use those official titles when identifying them on first reference.


You should always have at least two sources for each story. After that, how you organize information from those sources is important. When you’re attributing information, be sure to put the attribution at the end of the sentence whenever possible. For example, Kenna said blah, blah, blah reads so much better when it is Blah, blah, blah, Kenna said.


People don’t explainexclaimreveal, etc. Get comfortable with using said. It lacks bias and is the only word you should use for quote attribution.


Everyone has words they use too much. Determine yours and delete them from your writing. Hot contenders include thatnowcurrentlyliterally, and very.


See how many words you can delete before you hit publish. I like to tell students to pretend every word costs $1 and save your money. Concise writing is clear writing.

Phrases worth cutting include in order to and in the process of.


Write everything in time, date, place order. For example, the meeting is at 10 a.m. Saturday in Room 151.

If the place is a business, always include the address.

Don’t start sentences with days or dates. When it happened rarely is more important than what happened.


There’s no place for cliches in your writing. They’re lazy.


Don’t start sentences with long clauses that only delay the action. If a clause requires a comma, move it to the end of the sentence.


Semicolons are for complex and/or compound sentences. Simple sentences make for the best writing. Break complex or compound sentences into two sentences instead.


Abovebelow and around are states of being. Use them literally and correctly.


Print your story. Circle the verbs. Replace every “to be” verb with an active one.


Give your readers enough details to enhance the story, but not so many details that they get lost in them. Show, don’t tell, but delete any description that doesn’t advance the story.


Never write to a number. Write until you’re done. When the story is told, stop writing.


You all know about how spell check doesn’t catch everything, but you still need to use it. Spell check your work, then proofread it carefully.


Printing your story or reading it out loud helps you find errors. It also helps you better understand how your writing will sound to your readers.


Don’t throw around commas like they don’t matter. Instead, pretend you only have so  many commas to use for the rest of your life. If you run out of commas, you’re destine to a life of run-on sentences. If in doubt, leave it out.


Deadlines are there for a reason. Not only does meeting deadlines make you look more professional, many times it gives you time to make necessary revisions.


Stop talking about or thinking about what you’re going to write. Put your rear in the chair and write.

To become a better writer, you must write. Following these writing tips will move you beyond just putting words on paper and help you write better, faster.


5 Errors in Noun-Verb Agreement

As shown in the examples below, when writers craft sentences with more than one noun or pronoun in the subject, they sometimes misidentify the key noun or pronoun and assign the wrong verb form to it. Discussion and revision in each sentence describes and solves the problem.

1. “Five days are too short for a vacation.”

The singular form of the verb “to be,” rather than the plural form, is appropriate here because of the context—the writer is referring to a collective unit of time consisting of five days, not to five units of time consisting of a day each: “Five days is too short for a vacation.”

2. Which of the following statements best describe your situation?

The verb in this sentence refers not to statementsbut to one of several statements—represented by the pronoun which—each of which is, in turn, being contemplated on its own, so the verb form should be singular: “Which of the following statements best describes your situation?”

3. Each of the top five priorities identified this year are technology related. 

Just as in the previous example, the first word in this sentence is a place-holder representing one priority. The five priorities are being considered in isolation, one at a time, so a singular verb is appropriate: “Each of the top five priorities identified this year is technology related.”

4. We believe that a diversity among people and perspectives create high-performing organizations.

Diversity, not the combination of “people and perspectives,” is the operative noun here, so the verb form should be singular: “We believe that a diversity among people and perspectives creates high-performing organizations.”

5. A combination of these factors, along with a number of wider digital transformation and economic trends, have focused attention on regulatory technology as a topic.

Combination, not factors, is the noun that the helping verb is associated with (and the parenthetical phrase located between factors and the verb is irrelevant to the verb form): “A combination of these factors, along with a number of wider digital transformation and economic trends, has focused attention on regulatory technology as a topic.”

Some people may disagree, arguing thatcombination, like descriptive words such as couple,majority, and variety, calls for notional agreement (or notional concord), in which plural nouns that modifying phrases that include collective nouns are associated with, rather than the collective nouns themselves, are considered the “target” of the verb. However, usage strongly favors singular concord, in which the verb concords, or agrees, with the collective noun (the “notion”).


5 Types of Unnecessary Hyphenation

The sentences below, each followed by a discussion and a revision, illustrate various ways in which a hyphen is used extraneously.

1. He adds that cities should be forced to follow a federally-defined law pertaining to what kinds of benefits restaurants should be required to provide to their employees.

Because adverbial phrases such as “federally defined” (where the adverb federally modifies the adjective defined, which in turn modifies a noun) so closely resemble adjectival phrases such as “little known” (where the adjectives little and knowncombine to modify a noun), and phrases in the latter category are usually hyphenated before a noun, adverbial phrases are also often (incorrectly) hyphenated.

Here, as in the case of all adverbial phrases ending in -ly, “federally defined” is not hyphenated: “He adds that cities should be forced to follow a federally defined law pertaining to what kinds of benefits restaurants should be required to provide to their employees.” (However, flat adverbs—those lacking the -ly ending—are hyphenated to an adjective when the adverbial phrase precedes a noun, such as “high ranking.”

2. Most of them are small- and medium-sized cities many people may never have heard of.

Small is followed by a hyphen here as if it constitutes a case of suspended hyphenation, where a repetition (in this case) of sized is implied, but the two elements modifying cities are not “small sized” and “medium sized,” but rather small and “medium sized,” so the hyphen after small is erroneous: “Most of them are small and medium-sized cities many people may never have heard of.”

3. The film was among the highest-grossing that year.

A phrasal adjective is generally not hyphenated when it follows the noun it modifies: “The film was among the highest grossing that year.” (Alternatively, retain the hyphen but insert a synonym for the noun after the phrasal adjective, as in “The film was among the highest-grossing releases that year.”)

4. The developers proposed to phase-in that part of the project over the course of several years.

“Phase in” consists of a verb and a preposition, which have no need of a hyphen to signal their interrelationship: “The developers proposed to phase in that part of the project over the course of several years.” (This error likely exists as a result of a confusion of the phrase with its use as an adjectival phrase, where a hyphen is valid, and as the nounphase-in, similar to built-in.)

5. Jones is a past-president of the organization.

In this sentence, past is an adjective modifyingpresident, and as such, it should not be attached to the word it modifies: “Jones is a past president of the organization.”



Singgih Daru Kuncara


This paper discusses translation of personal name in children’s literature. The uniqueness of translating for children is that the translator is concerned with the target readers. The object of this paper is character’s name in Walt Disney stories. Techniques in translating names are pure borrowing, naturalized borrowing, literal translation, and adaptation. Adaptation technique should be minimized because it tends to violate the author’s intention to give a meaningful name to a certain character name. Reducing adaptation technique also helps the children to respect and know about other cultures.

Keywords: name, translation, children, culture

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Kritik Moral dalam Sastra Lisan Daerah Kalimantan Timur


Pelestarian terhadap jenis karya sastra terutama sastra lisan yang hampir memudar dalam masyarakat perlu terus dilakukan salah satunya adalah dengan penelitian kajian sastra lisan. Melalui pendekatan pustaka dan pengambilan data di lapangan dengan cara wawancara, penelitian kualitatif ini dilakukan dengan tujuan mengkaji kritik moral yang terdapat dalam sastra lisan daerah Kalimantan Timur terutama yang berasal dari suku Dayak, Kutai dan Banjar. Data diperoleh melalui penuturan para narasumber dalam bahasa asli kemudian diterjemahkan dalam Bahasa Indonesia.
Hasil penelitian menunjukkan bahwa setiap sastra lisan yang dikaji mengandung berbagai nilai moral terutama yang terlihat dalam hubungan manusia dengan dirinya sendiri, hubungan manusia dengan sesama manusia dan hubungan manusia dengan Tuhan Yang Maha Esa yang tercermin dalam berbagai aspek-aspek kehidupan seperti keluarga, alam dan sosil. Kandungan nilai-nilai moral di dalam karya sastra lisan dapat memotivasi masyarakat ke arah kehidupan yang lebih baik sebab masyarakat dapat memetik pelajaran positif sebagai tauladan dalam kehidupan melalui tokoh-tokoh yang diperlihatkan di dalam cerita. Kejujuran, kehati-hatian dalam bertutur kata dan bertindak, tanggung jawab, kreativitas, dan kebijaksanaan dalam pengambilan keputusan merupakan bagian dari nilai moral yang mewakili hubungan manusia dengan dirinya di dalam karya sastra lisan yang dikaji. Menjaga hubungan baik antar sesama umat manusia juga dapat dilakukan dengan berbagai cara seperti toleransi, saling gotong-royong, apresiasi terhadap hasil karya cipta orang lain, serta saling menghormati antar sesama. Di dalam kehidupan keluarga, pesan moral yang muncul dalam cerita juga mengajarkan tentang kewajiban anak untuk selalu menghormati dan berbakti kepada kedua orang tua. Sebagai perwujudan rasa syukur akan ciptaan Tuhan Yang Maha Esa, manusia wajib meningkatkan kepedulian terhadap alam semesta dengan menjaga kelestarian lingkungan alam, mematuhi larangan untuk tidak melakukan perburuan secara berlebihan, dan selalu memanjatkan doa dan hanya percaya akan pertolongan sang Khalik. Menjauhi sikap iri atau dengki atas keberhasilan orang lain juga merupakan pesan moral lain yang dapat dipetik dalam hubungan antara manusia dengan Tuhan Yang Maha Esa.
Kata kunci : kritik moral, sastra lisan

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by: Singgih Daru Kuncara


This paper aims to evaluate the translation of cultural terms in English version of of the Hirata’s Laskar Pelangi. This paper investigates also the translation quality of those cultural terms. The data, in this study, are the terms of culture that exist in the novel. The finding of the cultural term is divided into five categories. It consists of ecology, material, social, organization, customs, ideas, motion and habits. Overall, translation cultural terms lead to reduce the level of acceptability and readability of the translation quality.

Keywords: translation, cultural terms, laskar pelangi, rainbow troops

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 3 Sentences That Cause Confusion

In each of the following sentences, a word or phrase is an obstacle to comprehension. The discussion and revision that follows each example suggests a path to clarity.

1. Technology companies have a very different mind-set to traditional financial institutions.

Comparisons structured as one is in this sentence should employ from rather than to, and note the insertion of the phrase “that of the” to indicate that the comparison is between mind-sets and not the entities that have the mind-sets: “Technology companies have a very different mind-set from that of traditional financial institutions.”

2. The agency found that contrary to its claims, World Wide Wickets failed to employ reasonable and appropriate measures to protect data.

This sentence has an unclear antecedent: The pronoun its appears to refer to “the agency,” because no other entity has yet been identified, but it is a reference to the company subsequently mentioned. For clarity, use a specific proper noun (for example, “World Wide Wickets”) or a specific common noun (for example, “(the) company”) first, then a pronoun (or, in this case, use a proper noun on first reference and a common noun on second reference, bypassing the need for a pronoun at all): “The agency found that contrary to the claims of World Wide Wickets, the company failed to employ reasonable and appropriate measures to protect data.”

3. Jones faces criticism of others who oppose his policy positions, as does opponent John Smith and many others.

This sentence is ambiguous—it could mean that Smith and many others face the same criticism as Jones, or the phrase “as does” could apply not to the verb faces but to the verb oppose. (In this case, the latter option applies.) To eliminate possible confusion, chose a clearer word or phrase in place of the nebulous “as does”: “Jones faces criticism of others who oppose his policy positions, including opponent John Smith and many others.”

5 Types of Errors in Parallel Construction of Sentences

There are numerous ways to inadvertently derail a sentence by failing to provide consistent structure to parallel elements. The following sentences illustrate various types of pitfalls and how they can be avoided.

1. These audits are performed on both an ongoing basis or as part of due diligence.

Both is appropriate (but not required) when a second choice is mentioned in addition but not when the reference is in opposition, as here: “These audits are performed on an ongoing basis or as part of due diligence.”

2. The snakes will be safe from human interference, will have ideal places to hibernate, and plenty of mice and chipmunks to eat.

Each of the three phrases in this sentence requires a verb at the head of the phrase: “The snakes will be safe from human interference, will have ideal places to hibernate, and will have plenty of mice and chipmunks to eat.”

3. Other exhibits include rare movies about San Francisco, a primer on nineteenth-century architecture as well as the twentieth-century history of the city’s gay and lesbian community.

“As well as” is not simply an equivalent substitute for and; it is appropriate only when adding a subordinate clause to a main clause. Also, because the first two items do not constitute a list, they must be connected with a conjunction rather than separated by punctuation: “Other exhibits include rare movies about San Francisco and a primer on nineteenth-century architecture, as well as the twentieth-century history of the city’s gay and lesbian community.”

4. His latest controversial product didn’t receive much backlash as expected, but hundreds of orders.

The counterpoint in this sentence must, to be parallel, consist of an independent clause, complete with a subject and a verb: “His latest controversial product didn’t receive much backlash as expected, but it did result in hundreds of orders.”

5. They must either win Tuesday night or Saturday night to return to the finals.

The conjunction either should precede the verb: “They must win either Tuesday night or Saturday night to return to the finals.” (An exception is if each choice in this sentence is preceded by its own verb, as in “They must either win Tuesday night or prevail Saturday night to return to the finals.”)


25 Words Coined by Twentieth-Century Author

This post lists a number of words that were introduced to the English lexicon by novelists and other writers during the twentieth century.

1. beep: Scientist and novelist Arthur C. Clarke came up with this onomatopoeic word for a small, high-pitched signal.

2. blurb: Humorist Gelet Burgess coined this term for a short piece of promotional copy.

3. catch-22: Novelist Joseph Heller named his best-known novel after his term for the concept of a lose-lose predicament.

4. cojones: Novelist Ernest Hemingway borrowed the Spanish word meaning “testicles” to refer to courage.

5. cyberspace: Novelist William Gibson combined the extant prefix cyber with space to describe an online environment.

6. debunk: Novelist William E. Woodward created this word to describe the concept of disproving fraudulent claims.

7. doublethink: Novelist George Orwell named the concept of having contradictory simultaneous ideas.

8. dreamscape: Poet Sylvia Plath came up with this word for a dreamlike scene.

9. factoid: Novelist Norman Mailer coined this term for an invented fact or a false claim that becomes accepted as fact; by extension, it has also come to refer to a trivial fact.

10. groupthink: Writer William H. Whyte coined this word, which refers to self-deceiving conformity, on the model of doublethink.

11. litterbug: Writer Alice Rush McKeon came up with this term for people who carelessly drop litter.

12. meme: Scientist Richard Dawkins coined this term for behaviors, ideas, or styles passed between people; it is now widely associated with images from popular culture that express a concept.

13. microcomputer: Scientist and novelist Isaac Asimov attached a prefix meaning “very small” to computer to create a word for a portable computing device.

14. nerd: Writer Dr. Seuss gave no definition for this nonsense word he coined and did not associate it with any of his illustrations, but it came to refer to a socially inept person, especially one with advanced academic or intellectual skills but poor social skills.

15. nymphet: Novelist Vladimir Nabokov came up with this word for a sexually precocious pubescent girl; by extension, it came to apply to an attractive young woman.

16. piehole: Novelist Stephen King introduced this slang for the mouth, with the connotation that someone associated with the word (as when told, “Shut your piehole”) should use one’s mouth only for eating because the thoughts the person voices with it are not worthwhile for anyone to hear.

17. quark: Scientist Murray Gell-Mann, inspired by writer James Joyce’s use of the word in its existing sense of “a fermented dairy product resembling cottage cheese,” adopted the spelling of that word for a term he had coined that referred to a type of subatomic particle.

18. robot: The brother of Czech writer Karel Čapek suggested that he use robota, Czech for “forced labor,” as a name for machines that resemble and perform tasks normally carried out by humans; it was translated into English as robot, and Isaac Asimov came up with the noun robotics to refer to the science behind such machines, as well as the adjective robotic.

19. scaredy-cat: Satirist Dorothy Parker came up with this slang word for a timid person.

20. superman: Playwright George Bernard Shaw translated philosopher Friedrich Nietzche’s term Übermensch for the title of his play Man and Superman; the word also applies generically to a person with extraordinary abilities as well as to the superhero of that name.

21. tightwad: Humorist George Ade used this term in a colloquial retelling of fairy tales.

22. tween: Philologist and novelist J. R. R. Tolkien coined this word to describe hobbit adolescence, alluding to the span of life known as the twenties (hobbits came of age in their early thirties), but it later arose independently as a truncation of between to refer to the transitional years between childhood and adolescence.

23. unputdownable: Mystery writer Raymond Chandler came up with this word for a compelling read.

24. whodunit: Book critic Donald Gordon described a mystery novel with this word.

25. workaholic: Psychologist Wayne E. Oates coined this term on the model of alcoholic; although it was not the first -aholic coinage, its popularity inspired many similar constructions.


Proof and Prove

The following words are related to each other and to words based on the element prob-, seen in a number of words ranging from probe to probable and derived from the Latin verb probare, meaning “demonstrate” or “test.”

The noun proof refers to evidence or something that makes an assertion certain or valid. It also applies to a test of an object or substance to evaluate its quality. The term also pertains to the alcoholic strength of a beverage, to a special collector’s issue of a coin (but originally in reference to coin production as a test run), to a test impression or print, or to typeset material produced for correction before a final version is published. As a verb, proof refers to activating yeast, strengthening something, or correcting text; proofread is an alternative to describe the last action, the activity is called proofreading, and one who proofreads is a proofreader. The word functions as an adjective in references to resistance (for example, “Education is intended to be proof against ignorance”), which is condensed in compounds such as foolproof.

Prove (by way of the Old French verb prueve) means “check,” “test,” or “verify,” or “show that one is capable or worthy.” The past tense is rendered as either proved or proven, and the adjectival and adverbial forms are provable (or proven or, rarely, proved), and provably, while one who proves is a prover, and the quality of being provable is provableness. Other than the past-tense forms and the adjectival form provable, these words are not common.

Approve (by way of the old French verb aprover) originally was simply a variant of prove, but it later developed the sense of “agree to,” “allow,” or “sanction.” The action is approval or, more formally, approbation; the noun approver, the verb approbate, and the adjective approbatory are all rare.

To reprove is to censure, correct, or scold; the action is reproof. One who reproves is a reprove (though that usage is rare), and one may be described as scolding reprovingly. These words stem from the Anglo-French verb reprover and ultimately derive from the Latin verb reprobare, the source of reprobate. (The family of related words that retain the prob- element are discussed in this post.)


5 subject-verb disagreements

When crafting sentences, writers must take care to check that verbs are inflected to correspond with the subject—the word or phrase the verb pertains to—which is not necessarily the most adjacent noun. The following sentences, each discussed and revised beneath the examples, demonstrate the various pitfalls one can encounter with this issue.

1. Demonstrating effective continuous-monitoring programs have also helped leading institutions meet heightened regulatory expectations.

The verb following programs pertains not to that word but to demonstrating—it is the act of demonstrating, not the programs, that has provided the assistance referred to here, so has is the correct form of the verb: “Demonstrating effective continuous-monitoring programs has also helped leading institutions meet heightened regulatory expectations.”

2. Nearly one in three organizations spend less than one million dollars annually on compliance with the regulation.

In sentences such as this in which a phrase refers to a proportion of a whole in which the proportion is one, the verb should be singular: “Nearly one in three organizations spends less than one million dollars annually on compliance with the regulation.”

3. Implementing simplistic solutions based on symptomatic causes, or a single cause when there are multiple interacting causes, are highly likely to end in failure and disappointment.

When two choices are presented as alternatives rather than as a combination, with or rather than and linking them, a singular verb is appropriate because it applies only to the first option: “Implementing simplistic solutions based on symptomatic causes, or a single cause when there are multiple interacting causes, is highly likely to end in failure and disappointment.”

4. The patchwork of federal and state regulations have left firms with great uncertainty about how to comply.

The verb applies to the subject patchwork, not to the phrase modifying the subject, so has, not have, is correct: “The patchwork of federal and state regulations has left firms with great uncertainty about how to comply.”

5. I feel that each of these skills are crucial for this job.

The subject of this sentence is each, not skills, so the associated verb must be singular: “I feel that each of these skills is crucial for this job.”